1. Connecting to the Law
Her parents might say that she likes to argue, but Gretchen Trower enjoys questioning, researching, and building her case, which makes her well-suited to a paralegal career. And she just graduated from Center for Advanced Legal Studies and is in her second month as a paralegal, the profession that she has dreamed about for almost 20 years.
It was in an undergraduate political science class at the University of Missouri where Gretchen's passion for the law was sparked. She became very interested in how the law affects government policy and society. The connection between courtroom decisions, policy, and people’s everyday lives made her want to become a lawyer. She began to study for the LSAT, the entrance exam for most law schools. But her plans changed after marrying a soldier she met while serving in the military.
Over time, Gretchen's interest in the law did not wane; but with a husband overseas and now a young daughter; law school would take too much precious time from her child. So she began to explore the paralegal profession and discovered Center for Advanced Legal Studies (CALS).
2. Connecting to Paralegal Faculty
Gretchen was impressed with the program that CALS offered. It was challenging, and she had to work very hard to earn a 3.9 GPA. But, as she says, "If it had been too easy, I wouldn't have wanted anything to do with it. I feel like I've earned my certificate." Long-time faculty member Aida Ziemnicki was a favorite because "she had the highest expectations for her students" and most rose to the challenge. All of the instructors shared valuable real-life experience which brought the paralegal role into focus.
3. Connecting to Paralegal Students
The other students in Gretchen's online paralegal classes were very diverse, coming from all age groups, levels of experience, and locales. But many connections were formed, and some still keep in touch. Paralegal students can create a professional support network even as their paralegal careers are just getting started.
4. Connecting to Paralegal Staff
Gretchen is very appreciative of the CALS staff, who were invaluable in helping her transition into a paralegal career. From Director of Career Services, Tina Ghanavati, who was not only successful in setting Gretchen up in her current paralegal position, but also was emotionally supportive along the way, to Director of Admissions, James Scheffer, who even after Gretchen had graduated the school returned a phone call offering advice and answers to a question about legal transcription, Gretchen feels that the connections made at CALS will stay with her for years.
5. Connecting to Attorneys
Now Gretchen is happily working as the only paralegal in the Executive Suites of the Lyric Centre among 40 independent attorneys. And there, she is building even more connections. In only four weeks of employment, she has gone from working for only one attorney to ten attorneys, and another just asked for her help.
What about her past dream of law school? In the future, that may be a possibility for Gretchen, but right now she is placing priority on her connection to her family, especially her daughter. Working as a paralegal allows her to enjoy a fulfilling career in the legal field while helping to support her family.
Are you interested in the connections you could make at Center for Advanced Legal Studies? We would love to answer any questions you might have about the paralegal profession or our paralegal programs. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1.800.446.6931.Joy Oden is an Adjunct Professor at Center for Advanced Legal Studies and a Guest Blogger for CALS. She writes about her students because she is continually amazed at their desire to change their lives, their ability to overcome difficult circumstances, and their determination to help others.